The Grail in the USA

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To Read Thomas Berry, Start Here

Another excellent blog post from Grail member Marian Ronan. 

To read more visit

In the 1970s, I lived for a number of years with twenty-five or so other women in a Catholic feminist community on an organic farm outside Cincinnati, Ohio. The community was called Grailville, and the years I spent there changed my life.

It would be hard to tell you in one blog or even many the extraordinary things I learned and experienced while I was living at Grailville. But what I want to tell you about today concerns  a Roman Catholic  priest named Thomas Berry who visited the Grailville community from time to time and talked with us. The US Grail–the women’s movement of which Grailville was (and is) the national center–had been part of the “back to the land” movement from its early years, and by the 1970s the environmental movement was definitely underway, with books appearing like E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful.   But Berry, a Passionist monk and professor of world religions at Fordham University in New York, was presenting some truly original ideas about the relationship between the earth and the creation stories of the world religions.

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The Grail Center at Cornwall-on-Hudson

“Through time, experience, and personal commitment, the bonds of community deepen and widen, and the culture we create together grows richer, sustaining not only the work that we do, but also the reality of who we are.”  Sharon Thomson 

Emily and Simonetta, Pumpkin Queens


Community has always been an integral part of the Grail.  Locally and

Metanoia at Cornwall, 2011

globally Grail women have worked to transform the world.  Grail women have built an international community of like-minded women reaching out, developing programs and addressing problems on a local, national and international level.   Many women have found the inspiration to do their work because of the inspiration the Grail community brings.   

What is it about community that inspires you?  Is it the shared values?  Is it the common purpose and shared participation?  Why is community so important to the Grail? 

Many thanks to Simonetta Romano for the wonderful pictures!

Walking the Labyrinth


Metanoia at Cornwall


Living Grail: Bernice Belair Sisson

“I guess you can say I was at the right place at the right time,” Bernice Belair Sisson said, recalling how she started her work as an advocate for battered women in the early 1970’s. No laws had been created yet to address the issues of domestic abuse and almost no one was talking about violence against women.

In St. Paul, MN, where she was living, she was part of a loose collective of women who, with a grant from a local attorney, had started a hotline offering support, legal advice and information about women’s rights and divorce when it became clear they were facing a horrible reality. The women they were talking to were victims of domestic violence and needed a safe place to go. Two years later, in 1974, that crisis hotline evolved into the nation’s first women’s shelter, Women’s Advocates, Inc. Read more…

Why Women Walk, by Marian Ronan

To read more from Grail member, Marian Ronan, visit

Let me begin by saying that I am a serious walker. One of the (many) reasons I love New York City is because it’s such a fabulous place to walk. Not that I am an Olympic, long-distance walker. But I do regularly walk from Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, where I live, to the Q stop on Atlantic Avenue, on the other side of Park Slope, a walk that takes about an hour. Or I walk from our apartment up to and all the way around Prospect Park and back, an outing of an hour and a quarter. And when  it’s not too hot or too cold (not recently, then!) I walk from the library up at Columbia University, one of my favorite places on earth, down to Union Square, a trek of about five miles. I take a long walk most days, except if it’s raining, and then I sweat on my Tunturi exercise bike instead. It’s all quite wonderful. Read more…

The New Grail Website

Welcome to the new U.S. Grail website!  We wanted to create a dynamic website that would be exciting to visit, easy to navigate, and inspiring to all who visit.  You will find everything from the old site on the new site.  And we have added a few different features that I am really excited about. 

On the top navigation bar you will see the tab, “What We Do.”  This tab links with the bottom section of the homepage that focuses on the four themes, Spiritual Search, Care of our Earth, Women and the Arts, and Social Transformation.   These sections are specifically for sharing with the world what Grail women do.  What better way is there to learn about the Grail than from Grail women doing Grail work? 

Also on the top navigation bar is the tab “Community.”  This is where the newsletters, blog, articles from Gumbo and anything the Grail wants to share will go.  I think the community page will become really important as we expand the presence of the Grail online.  It will present an opportunity to create dialogue between the Grail and those that visit our site. 

So, take a look around and let us know what you think!

Streams of Living Water Beside the Pilgrim’s Path

This Year’s Grail Retreat in Sobrado, Spain
Karen O’Brien

This past May, Judith Blackburn and I were fortunate to be able to attend the Grail retreat held at the Cistercian monastery of Santa Maria in Sobrado, Spain. An ongoing collaboration between the Swedish and the Portuguese Grail, in friendship with the Cistercian brothers, this annual retreat was a time of rest, renewal and deepening relationships between the Grail women who, this year, came from Sweden, Portugal and the United States.

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